Journal Article

“Fruit basket upset”: Spatially explicit crop mixture responses to climatic and economic pressures

The choice of crops to produce at a location depends to a large degree on the climate. As the climate changes and food demand evolves, farmers may need to produce a different mix of crops. This study assesses how much cropland may be subject to such upheavals at the global scale, and then focuses on China as a case study to examine how spatial heterogeneity informs different contexts for adaptation within a country.

A global agricultural economic model is linked to a cropland allocation algorithm to generate maps of cropland distribution under historical and future conditions. The mix of crops at each location is examined to determine whether it is likely to experience a major shift.

Two-thirds of rainfed cropland and half of irrigated cropland are likely to experience substantial upheaval of some kind.

This analysis helps establish a global context for the local changes that producers might face under future climate and socioeconomic changes. The scale of the challenge means that the agricultural sector needs to prepare for these widespread and diverse upheavals.